‘What do you want?’ Jesus asks the two disciples who approach him. Probably, they don’t really know what they want. They were followers of John the Baptist, until John pointed them towards Jesus. They address Jesus as ‘Rabbi’ – Teacher – and they ask him where he lives. The two men must see something in Jesus that draws them to him. They want to find out more.
Jesus’ response is ‘Come and see.’ He spends the rest of the day talking with them. We don’t know what was said during those hours, but by the next day, Andrew is convinced that Jesus is the Messiah – God’s chosen one. Andrew is so impressed with Jesus that he brings his brother Simon to meet the new teacher. And Jesus calls Simon, too. Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas (Peter, in English) – the Rock. Jesus will not just change his name, but his whole life, too.
Jesus called Simon and Andrew to become his disciples, and he calls each one of us to be a disciple, too. But Jesus gives us a choice. Like the first disciples, he invites us to ‘come and see.’ When we meet Jesus and listen to his words, we realise, like Simon and Andrew, that he is the Teacher who can give meaning to our life.
Simon and Andrew weren’t rich, famous or educated. They were ordinary working men, until Jesus called them to follow him. Jesus has a unique call for each of us. However the world may see us, we are precious to God. Jesus calls us to meet him; to ‘come and see.’
Peace Sunday is this Sunday 17th. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year is ‘A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace.’ Resources at https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2021/
Please pray for Joyce Nolan, who recently died. Details of her Requiem Mass will be confirmed shortly. If you wish to attend the Requiem Mass, you must pre-book a place through the parish office. The Mass will also be live streamed on our YouTube channel.
Please pray also for Fr David Milburn, whose Requiem Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Robert at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday 22nd January at 11.00am, and live streamed on the Cathedral YouTube channel.
Local hospitals are in urgent need of toiletries for the many patients they are currently treating. Please help the NHS by donating: Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Shower Gel, Shampoo, Combs/Brushes, Shaving Cream, Razors and Flannels. Items can be left in the box in the porch at St Cuthbert’s – please do not go to the hospitals.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is kept from 18-25 January. This year’s theme is ‘Abiding in Christ.’ Rev Gavin Wort, the Coordinating Chaplain at Durham University, will preach at both Masses next Sunday. Resources at https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/
Many members of our community could still be feeling isolated, especially now we are back in lockdown. If you are in need of any practical help, eg with grocery shopping or collecting prescriptions, or if you just want to chat, please contact Fr Andrew by email, or by telephone on 0191 384 3442. If you know of someone who might need support, please make contact with them, or let Fr Andrew know.
‘Be a light in the darkness’ is the theme for 2021’s annual Holocaust memorial day. Holocaust memorial events take place around January 27th, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Camp in 1945. Due to Covid restrictions, the Department for Interreligious Relations are unable to hold the usual annual events. However, an online commemoration will be available from 25th January on the diocesan website, www.rcdhn.org.uk This will include a testimony given by Anita Lasker Wallfisch, who is a survivor of the infamous Auschwitz orchestra. Contributions have also been given by members of The United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in Newcastle, and Anita’s grandson Simon, a renowned cellist.
The University Hospital of North Durham still has restrictions in place regarding visits to patients – see the hospital website for the latest information. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and can bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or email@example.com
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
Parish bulletins and Catholic newspapers will be available for collection in a box outside the church door. Please pick up a copy of the bulletin and put it through the letterbox of a friend or neighbour who might not be able to get out.
Northern Cross: the January edition of our diocesan newspaper is now available online at www.northerncross.org.uk Please consider taking out a subscription to support the Northern Cross.
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has set up a system to allow people who do not have internet access to listen to Mass over the telephone. This service can be accessed by calling 01642 130120.
NEPACS Winter Bag Appeal supports men and women being released from North-East prisons, by providing essential items such as warm clothing, bedding and toiletries. You can donate online to the Winter Bag Appeal at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/winterprisonersbagappeal
Today, the Church concludes the Christmas season by celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus, as a young man, left his family home and appeared in public for the first time, when he was baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Jesus’ baptism was an important moment for him. He saw the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, and he heard the voice of God the Father telling him, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’ These words of the Father strengthened Jesus to begin his public ministry. After a time of trial in the wilderness, he would set out, preaching and teaching, healing the sick and forgiving sins.
For each one of us, our baptism was the beginning of our life as a Christian; a new birth. Whether we were baptised as a baby or as an adult, that was the day when we became a member of the family of Jesus’ disciples, the Church. On that day, we too, like Jesus, were given a promise of God’s love and favour, and we too were filled with the Holy Spirit, to strengthen us for the journey of life that lay before us.
In today’s Second Reading, St John reminds us of the two commandments that God gave us through Jesus; to love God, and to love God’s children, our fellow men and women. Every day, we have to choose whether we will be true to the promises of our baptism by showing love to others. Every day, we should remember that we are God’s beloved children, and that our Father’s favour rests on us
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ann Button, whose Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St Cuthbert’s on Thursday 14th January at 10am. If you wish to book a place at the Requiem Mass, and have not already been invited to attend by Ann’s family, please contact the Parish Office by email or telephone – numbers are limited due to lockdown regulations.
Please pray also for Joyce Nolan, whose Requiem Mass will be on Friday 22nd January at 2.30pm; and for Fr David Milburn, who died recently.
Negotiating Salvation and Divine Sovereignty in the Calvinist Tradition. Presented by Prof. Alec Ryrie, Durham University. Thursday 14 January at 5.00pm. See the Centre for Catholic Studies website for details and registration
Our annual Retreat in Daily Life will be held from Sunday 24th-Friday 29th January 2021. A Retreat in Daily Life brings the experience of an individually guided retreat to you, fitting around your work and study commitments. You have the opportunity to meet daily with a prayer guide and explore the Ignatian approach to prayer. The retreat is open to everyone – students, university staff and parishioners. Those who have taken part in past years have found it a worthwhile and enriching experience. This year’s retreat will be held online, because of Covid restrictions. Put the dates in your diary now! For more information, email Fr Andrew.
Mary’s Meals provides a good meal to some of the world’s poorest children, every school day. Up to 31st January, your donations will be doubled by the UK Government. https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/
The Light that shines in the darkness
Today’s reading comes from the very beginning of John’s Gospel. Before telling us the story of Jesus’s life, John sets the scene with this strange and mysterious Prologue, reflecting on the Word of God.
The Word of God was with God the Father ‘in the beginning’ – at the creation of the world. The Word is the Light that shines in the darkness. The Word brings life into the world. The Word ‘was made flesh and lived among us.’ The Word of God is Jesus, the Son of God. The Word has become a man, and has come to live in the world that God made. The Son of God knows how we feel, because he experienced everything that we do. He felt hungry, thirsty, tired, sad. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. He felt lost and abandoned on the Cross.
Jesus is the Light that shines out in the darkness of sin and suffering. He brings hope and meaning to those who have lost their way in the dark. Jesus brings life; he heals the sick, and overcomes sin and death.
Jesus is the Light for all people. We are quick to divide people up, according to nationality, race or class. But with Jesus, there are no divisions. We are all God’s children, in the light of Christ.
We have lived through a strange and difficult year. As a new year begins, the world around us may still seem dark and frightening. But Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness. He will show us the way.
The Feast of the Epiphany is this Wednesday, 6th January. The 7.00pm Mass will be live streamed. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays has been suspended by the Bishops of England & Wales, until further notice.
Thank you all for your kindness to me over the Christmas season, and for your contribution to the life of our parish during the past year. Let us pray for one another as we move forward into 2021 – Fr Andrew.